Rod Stewart – Maggie May

I had to include this. And rather than write about it again, I’ve lifted a post I wrote on our Maggie & Alice blog in November 2009 (which can be found here if you want to see the original).

When you call your daughter Louie, there’s only one song that comes to mind (in fact, she was specifically named after Louie, Louie which I always thought was pretty cool. The Kingsmen’s version, of course).

And when you call your daughter Maggie, there’s also only one song that comes to mind.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Rod Stewart, something that’s grown stronger over the years and, I’m not ashamed to say, now borders on affection. I’ve been known to get very sentimental over a few of his songs but especially over Maggie May, and especially after a drink. Which is why when we gave Maggie her name I knew it would get me even more. Every time.

My affection for Rod comes from, but goes beyond, his (early) music. Although he’s often regarded as a bit of a Jack the Lad and an incorrigible womaniser, he’s always struck me as being quite a decent bloke. I’ve always got the impression – from many of his own, earlier, songs – that he actually likes, and loves, women. Unlike, say, Mick Jagger, whose songs about women are almost always, even at best, faintly misogynistic. And there’s also that (and it’s why he’s so well-loved by so many people) he seems to be the working-class lad with a heart of gold, living the dream in a way that many of us would do, given the chance. As Greil Marcus once wrote: “When Stewart started out, the ambition wasn’t to be a great artist – it was to fuck film stars.” Luckily, Rod managed both.

It’s odd, but I always feel the need to justify why I like him so much. I shouldn’t have to really – those first four albums (An Old Raincoat Won’t Let You Down, Gasoline Alley, Every Picture Tells A Story and Never A Dull Moment) are some of the greatest records ever made. And Maggie May is one of the greatest songs ever made. It’s got everything: a superb vocal, clever lyrics, a great band, that uplifting mandolin and a joyous, though sweetly nostalgic, feel. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those songs that, through sheer ubiquity, has lost a little of its magic ( it doesn’t help that it always seems to crop up on Jeremy Clarkson endorsed Classic Rock and Driving CDs). But if you listen to it again, a little closer, it’s perfect.

Which is why I’m pleased that my daughter got something from it.

About Paul Saxton

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2 Responses to Rod Stewart – Maggie May

  1. Andy says:

    I love the fact that the TOTP recording was made after hours of drinking & oplaying football in the BBC corridors, which is why they persuaded John Peel to sit with them and pretend (badly!) that he was in the band.

  2. Huw Sayer says:

    Delighted you went for Maggie May – it’s just a wonderful song from the very first, poignant lines. Strange how I never think I like Rod Stewart songs – until I hear some of them, particularly this one, and remember how as a child in the 70s I loved how he sang (even when so many people said he couldn’t) – a bit like a Scottish Bob Dylan. Cheers Paul for the memory – and another excellent post.

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